NEW YORK — A day after flight delays plagued much of the U.S., air travel is smoother today, but the government is warning passengers that the situation can change by the hour as it runs the nation's air traffic control system with a smaller staff. Dozens of flights at Tampa International Airport were delayed Monday on the first major day of sequestration furloughs of air traffic controllers nationwide, with disruptions building up as the day grew later. Airlines and members of Congress urged the Federal Aviation Administration to find other ways to make mandatory budget cuts besides furloughing controllers. While delays haven't been terrible yet, the airlines are worried about the long-term impact late flights will have on their budgets and on fliers. US Airways CEO Doug Parker said he doesn't believe the furloughs can be tolerated for long.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pointed the finger at Congress, which forced government agencies to cut spending after failing to reach a deficit-reduction plan. The Federal Aviation Administration plans to furlough 10 percent of its employees, including 1,500 of 15,000 controllers nationwide, on any day through Sept 30. About 400 flight delays across the nation Sunday were attributable to furloughs. Airline and pilot organizations last week filed suit to stop the FAA's furloughs. The FAA told airlines delays are most likely to occur at 10 airports: New York-LaGuardia; New York-JFK; Newark Liberty; Philadelphia; Fort Lauderdale; Chicago O'Hare; Chicago Midway; San Francisco; Los Angeles; and San Diego.